What does it mean to be a Highly Sensitive Person?
I am what we call a Highly Sensitive Person. What does this mean? an HSP is someone who possesses a heightened level of sensitivity and responsiveness to various stimuli in their environment. This term was coined by psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron in the 1990s and has gained recognition as a personality trait that influences how individuals process and react to sensory, emotional, and social experiences. HSPs tend to notice subtleties that others might overlook and often feel emotions more intensely. Characteristics commonly associated with Highly Sensitive Persons include (but do not always extend to every HSP):
Heightened Sensory Perception: HSPs often have a more acute sensory awareness, which can lead to being easily overwhelmed by bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, or other sensory inputs.
Emotional Intensity: HSPs tend to experience emotions deeply and intensely. They may be more empathetic and attuned to the feelings of others, which can lead to feeling drained in emotionally charged situations.
Rich Inner World: HSPs typically have a rich inner life. They might spend a lot of time reflecting, processing, and pondering their experiences and emotions.
Overstimulation and Need for Retreat: Because HSPs are easily overwhelmed by sensory input, they may need regular periods of solitude and downtime to recharge and recover from overstimulating situations.
Empathy and Compassion: HSPs often have a strong sense of empathy and compassion. They can easily connect with the feelings of others and are more likely to help and support those in need.
Subtleties and Details: HSPs are generally more attuned to subtleties and details in their environment. This can be beneficial in various contexts such as problem-solving, creative endeavors, and interpersonal relationships.
Sensitive to Criticism: HSPs may be more sensitive to criticism or negative feedback, as they tend to take things to heart more deeply.
It's important to note that being a Highly Sensitive Person is NOT a disorder or a negative trait. It's simply a different way of processing the world and interacting with one's environment.
Some individuals embrace and find strength in their sensitivity, while others may struggle with challenges related to overstimulation and emotional intensity. Understanding one's sensitivity and finding strategies to manage it can be beneficial for leading a balanced and fulfilling life.
Whenever I'm overwhelmed by feelings of joy, awe, or love, it's followed by intense feelings of gratitude. But what about those times when I am overwhelmed by anger, sadness, or fear?
I'm reminded over and over again that we can't selectively experience emotions. They are all a part of this spectrum of feeling that we are blessed with as humans.
I can't bask in the warmth my heart experiences when my 13 year old asks for a hug and then blast the universe for having to deal with the challenges that come with having a teenager.
Having gratitude for ALL of it and recognizing that I have the privilege to be alive and experiencing ALL of it - the amazement, the pain, the awe, the strain, it is all a part of who I am and who I will become.
And I am grateful (even if I sometimes don't remember to be in the moment 🙃).